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Kids' Phone Safety Blog

Bullying in Family and How to Prevent It

November 8, 2017
crying girl

For most parents, the word “bullying” is usually associated with a kid being intimidated by their peers or classmates, including some mocking, pushing, and name-calling which first comes to mind. Sadly, bullying in its various forms is something that goes far beyond classrooms, school passages or playgrounds. Many kids face insults and humiliation even before they enter the first grade in a place that is supposed to be the safest – their home. This problem that’s way more serious and underestimated by the modern society. That’s why spreading information about it is so important, and with a greater common effort we can make a difference in withstanding physical abuse and bullying in the family.

This article reveals facts about various family bullying displays and suggests tips on how to stop bullying at home.

frightened boy in a corner

Source: predragphoto77/Freepik

Here are a few statistics facts that speak for the scale of bullying nowadays, as well as for the seriousness of the effects of bullying on children:

  • 1 in 5 children reports of being bullied at least once a week;
  • Over 90% of the bullies reported of having been bullied themselves. Children who are being bullied by their family are likely to adopt their behavioral patterns and may start bullying themselves.
  • 64% of kids who were bullied did not report it;
  • Children who experience bullying are more likely to get such health problems as sleep disorders, headaches, and stomachaches;
  • Kids who are exposed to violence and bullying at home are more likely to be subject to anxiety, sadness, depression, and social withdrawal;

Family bullying may reveal itself in different forms such as verbal, physical or mental abuse. In a family, a child may be bullied by their siblings, parents or other family members. Not a few adopted kids may face bullying either from their step-siblings or step-parents.

Here’s what parents and children need to know about different forms of bullying in the family, and what can be done to withstand this problem.

Sibling Bullying

One of the most common forms of family bullying is bullying among siblings. Brothers and sisters of similar age often spend much time together. At some point, their relationship may include bullying caused by jealousy, sibling rivalry, seeking for attention or various other reasons. It is not always easy for parents to notice the signs of bullying between their kids. The aftereffects of sibling bullying may cause a lifelong effect on a child.

The main problem with sibling abuse is that family interactions may be regarded differently from what happens between peers at school or other child communities. While name-calling, mocking or pushing would be considered as bullying in school, at home this might be taken as a typical rivalry between siblings. Kids who become victims of sibling bullying are often afraid to tell about it to their parents in fear of being reprimanded by a bully.

How to prevent the problem? Bullying in any form might be hard to avoid within the same family where brothers and sisters interact with each other every day.

Here’s what parents can do to prevent sibling bullying:

  • Make a set of clear rules with certain consequences for an offender. They should apply to all kids;
  • Correct an inappropriate behavior as soon as you notice it;
  • Apply equal amount of supervision to all children;
  • Both parents should remain united and firm towards any displays of sibling bullying;
  • Educate your kids on how to deal with verbal abuse or other forms of harassment when adults are not around;
  • Explain to your children that it’s important not to hide from parents the fact of being bullied by their siblings, and to reach out for help and advice as soon as possible.

Parental Bullying

Bullying is something that may occur not only among peers or siblings but also among parents and their children. Authoritative or way-too-controlling parents may outbreak in physical, verbal or emotional bullying on their kids, which sadly may cause lifelong psychological damage to children. While parents need to find means of disciplining their children, no way should they cross the line between effective parenting and bullying.

Parental bullying may show up in people, who struggle in their own lives – socially, in a relationship with their partner or at work. Emotional or verbal abuse may let such adults feel superior and omnipotent by venting their frustration on their children. Many of those parents, who bully their kids, have experienced some sort of abuse from their own parents. Thus, started once, the damaging habit of parental abuse may be passed down through generations.



How to prevent the problem? Parental bullying usually feels very hard for the kids to deal with and even more difficult to withstand it. Such confrontation drains a child emotionally, ruins family bonds, may result in depression and lead to problems with trust.

The first thing a kid should try is having an open conversation with their parents. If this doesn’t help, they should reach out for the aid of a trusted relative, their school teacher or even a legal counselor.

An important thing for the parents to know is that a kid being bullied by a family member (a grandparent, an aunt/uncle, a cousin) is also considered to be family abuse. That’s why parents should be attentive to all family interactions, and be ready to provide their kid with help and support if needed.

Bullying in Stepfamilies

Unfortunately, the issue of bullying is common in stepfamilies, and may show up both in the form of either sibling or parental abuse. Rather often, the bond between the members of a stepfamily is weaker that may become the ground for bullying.

Just as in a typical family, bullying in stepfamily may come in forms of teasing, name-calling, threatening, shoving, ignorance or excluding a victim. As one of the possibilities, biological siblings may unite to bully their adopted sibling. Also, parents may often prioritize their biological kids, even if subconsciously. All this may lead to rivalry, jealousy or other forms of unfairness in a family.

How to prevent the problem? Bullying in stepfamilies is a very touchy question; displays of bullying might be hard to prevent. Step-parents should realize that creating a family atmosphere full of care and respect for an adopted child is totally their responsibility. A psychologist’s advice on how to prevent any possible display of bullying towards a step-child might be helpful.

Bullying in the family is a serious problem that might be less covered in media as compared to peer or cyberbullying. It is important for both children and parents to be educated to be able to prevent it.

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